I’m part of several youth and senior pastor groups that have been struggling with this time during the pandemic with burnout and exhaustion. In fact, I’m concerned that many people have found themselves to the point of being traumatized. Webinars, low attendance, letting go of staff, being fired yourself, and conflict due to masks or politics that make it feel as if Jesus is not at the forefront of the conversation.
Just because ministry is your calling does not mean you can avoid burnout. I’ve seen too many good ministers make bad choices because they hit a point of exhaustion.
Jesus Suffered Too
Jesus Himself is God made in human flesh and in His suffering, bore our sins because He experienced and lived through life on earth. He understands what it means to be exhausted, He literally needed Simon to help carry the cross:
As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.Luke 23:26
He understands what it means to grieve when He did so for Lazerus:
Jesus wept.John 11:35
And Jesus knows what it is like to be in complete agony, maybe more than most of humanity in our modern world has felt:
And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.Luke 22:44
So if we see that Jesus felt the same things we experience during trials, how did He respond that we can learn from Him?
Christians Healing and Growing
Here are several things that you as Christian counselors and pastors need to implement to avoid burnout and exhaustion based on the life of Jesus.
- Jesus Lived Healthy
Jesus ate healthy, got the sleep He needed and even took naps, took time to relax, made prayer a priority, and did a lot of walking (Matt 26:18, 20; Mark 1:16, 3:23, 4:38; Luke 7:36; John 10:40, 12:2)
- Have Self-Care
I want to write an article at some point that talks about self-care is not selfish or sinful. I’ve heard numerous pastors argue these points and if self-care was actually self-indulgence, I’d agree, but it’s not. For those that want to have some tips during this pandemic, check these out. Jesus needed to be in constant communication with God through prayer in the morning. He needed to meet His physical needs too.
- Have Boundaries
Jesus didn’t always do what people wanted Him to do. There were many people He didn’t help. It’s okay to say no. I don’t want to complicate this. Telling people no is important and I think more pastors need to do this.
- Jesus Understood Who Is In Control
I love the story of the disciples and Jesus on the boat where Peter walks on water. The whole story in Matthew 14:22-36 is one big understanding that trusting God is the point of our ministry and our lives. Even on the cross, Jesus is asking if He must bear the sins, but followed the command of His Father.
There are certainly more areas of life, what would you add to this list?